As American Songwriter reported, ZZ Top’s bassist Elwood Francis played an odd-looking 17-string bass at the band’s recent show on November 5 for the rock group’s 1983 song, “Got Me Under Pressure.”
Well, now there’s a bit of an online beef surrounding the occurrence.
In a social media kerfuffle, Francis and YouTube guitar player Jared Dines have gone back and forth about the instrument, with Dines calling it a “ripoff” of his Ormsby 18-string guitar, which he commissioned in 2018.
“I can’t with this…” Dines wrote on Instagram. “When ZZ Top uses a ripoff version of my 18-string guitar from some website. It even has ‘JD’ on the 12th fret, LOL.”
After Dines made the post, Francis added his own response on Instagram, saying that his 17-string bass was, yes, in fact, a copy of Dines’ 18-string.
Francis wrote, “I thought I’d use this bass once or twice for no other reason than amusement. It’s such a strikingly absurd instrument. We’d all laugh and then move on to something else.”
He added, “However, it’s gotten too much attention to not talk about the guy that actually came up with the idea: Jared Dines. The bass I play is a Chinese-made POS. It’s a mid-copy of something he plays and he’s probably all pissed off.
“I don’t know if he designed it but the cat’s an amazing musician and sees me playing simple-ass bass lines that I could play with one string, while he has worked up music to make use of the damn thing. Dude has moved beyond the 17-string and I’d suggest checking him out just to see what he does with it. I just hope he has a sense of humor.”
Dines then commented on Francis’ post, wishing to squash any beef, “Not pissed at all! I thought the picture of you playing it was photoshopped at first. I love that it’s real! Guitars are modified and remade all the time, I’m glad you had fun with it.”
Francis responded: “Dude, I cannot believe you play these things! We thought it was a joke but then [found] out about you and watched some videos. Bravo motherfucker! The joke’s on me ‘cause I have to play that bootleg piece of shit.”
Francis received the instrument from ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons who bought it for him as a joke.
Said Francis, “I was doing night internet searching [and] turned up a picture of this crazy 17-string bass. I sent a picture to Billy and we laughed about it and made some jokes about actually trying to use it.”
Francis added that Gibbons showed up with the instrument “a few weeks later” after Francis “had forgotten about it.”
Photo by Frank Hoensch/Redferns